Arkansas City, the largest city of Cowley county and one of the most important commercial centers of southeastern Kansas, is beautifully located on the elevation between the Arkansas and Walnut rivers, about 4 miles north of the state line and 12 miles south of Winfield, the county seat. The city was laid out in 1870, about the time Cowley county was organized, and the postoffice was established in April of that year with G. H. Norton as postmaster. Mr. Norton built the first housea pioneer log structureand was one of the first merchants. The place was first called Adelphi, later Walnut City, still later Cresswell and finally the name of Arkansas City was adopted. On June 10, 1872, Judge W. P. Campbell of the 13th district issued the order for the incorporation of the town, and at the first election for municipal officers on July 2, A. D. Keith was chosen mayor. For a few years the growth was comparatively slow, but in Dec., 1879, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad company completed a line to Arkansas City, after which the growth was more rapid and of a more substantial character. Following this road came the Kansas Southwestern, the Missouri Pacific, the Midland Valley and the St. Louis and San Francisco lines, providing transportation facilities as good as are to be found in any city of its size anywhere.
With the advent of the railroads, manufacturing became an important industry. Water power is provided by a canal 5 miles long connecting the Walnut and Arkansas rivers. Among the manufactured products are cement, flour and feed, brooms, paint and alfalfa meal. The city also has a meat packing establishment, planing mills, ice factory, creameries, five banks, an opera house which cost about $100,000, an electric lighting plant, a fine waterworks system which was first installed in 1881 and has been enlarged to keep pace with the growth of the city, a fire department, a street railway, a good sewer system, and two beautiful public parks. The first school was taught in 1871 by T. A. Wilson in a house that cost about $400. The present public school system comprises four modern ward school buildings and a high school building which cost about $40,000. A number of fine church edifices add to the beauty of the city, the jobbing trade covers a large territory, and the press is well represented by two daily and three weekly newspapers. The Arkansas City Commercial club is composed of energetic citizens, always alert to the interests of the city, and that its efforts in this direction have been successful may be seen in the fact that the population increased from 6,140 in 1900 to 7,508 in 1910.Pages 99-100 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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